Katie Canlin

Fabulous People: Katie Calnin

Katie Calnin is an interior designer and owner of Madison-based Calnin Design Studio (and samba dancer!) with wonderful words of wisdom for other women looking to open their own business. Learn about Katie Calnin…

Hometown: Born and raised in Richland Center, WI.

First job: I was a dance instructor from age 14 through college for young kids and high schoolers. Fun job! Also Fox’s Pizza…not so fun. 

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WI: I love walking at Cherokee Marsh in Madison and eating at Grampa’s Pizzeria (I’m somewhat biased since the chef is my partner in crime). 

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Starting my own interior design business. I never thought I was capable or motivated enough to make it happen. Turns out, those were just silly excuses I told myself. 

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Starting my own interior design business. For some women especially, we easily doubt our creative ideas and will talk ourselves out of doing something that could really be great and successful. I know, I did for a long time and it’s still a practice that I have to remind myself of every day. Just do it already. 

Someone who inspires you and why: I would say my lovely mom. She has always encouraged me to put myself out there and be confident in myself, even if I needed to fake it. In high school, she was a performer for Kids From Wisconsin and later a singer so I think that’s where some of her gusto came from, which she passed down to me. 

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: It’s literally impossible to know everything out of the gate as a designer, and that’s OK. Continue to be a student and stay humble. There is so much to learn on the job. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Find a mentor along the way and take someone out for coffee once in a while. Connections and networking are critical.  

Favorite quote: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” -Amber Lewis

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I am a samba dancer (in heels!) and perform at Carnaval in Madison every year. 

What makes someone fabulous: Someone who is unapologetic for being their true self. 

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